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Stories From Kiribati


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The Heartbreaking Stormy Dawn

Posted by Amota Eromanga on July 19, 2021 at 4:30 AM Comments comments (0)

[This story took place several decades back and at the time when there was only one main hospital ever built for all the inhabited islands of Kiribati. This hospital was at Abaokoro village on the island of North Tarawa. All patients with serious cases from the rest of the islands had to be admitted to this hospital for treatment]

An elderly man from the island of Arorae, the last island in the south, was admitted to Abaokoro hospital for treatment. Accompanying him all the way from Arorae, as a care-taker, was his own teenage granddaughter. [The story source left out the names of these two characters]

The granddaughter looked exceedingly beautiful and within just hours of their arrival, words of her beauty quickly spread out through the hospital, down into the villages and to the rest of North Tarawa. Considered a newcomer from a different island, people quickly nicknamed her the ‘new beautiful flower’. Many people, mostly young men, began visiting and staying at Abaokoro village; not for the medical assistance available there, but because of the beauty and presence of the granddaughter which they deeply desired. Every single one of these men had fallen in love with the granddaughter and could think of nothing else other than trying and wanting to win over her heart.

Over a month earlier, another young man had also been admitted to that main hospital for treatment. He was Marikiri, a patient from Makin, the last island in the north. One day, as Marikiri was lying on his bed facing his wide-open door, which he occasionally did, he suddenly saw a beautiful lady walked passed his room. The glimpse made him rush to the door to prove what he’d just sighted. Unfortunately, she was nowhere to be seen! She, indeed, had gone into their room which was just next to Marikiri’s. She surely was Marikiri's next-room mate! Without his knowing, Marikiri stood at his door for a while wondering if there could be another chance of seeing her again. Back onto his bed once again, he remembered something; the ‘new beautiful flower’ whom many people were still talking about. “Oh, I think I've known who that passer-by could have been!” his thought made him excited.

The very next day was one Marikiri would hardly forget. A day he came face to face for the first time with the 'new beautiful flower'! He sometimes was caught staring at her. "Yes, people are right. She really is beautiful as declared!" agreed the young man of Makin. And like what had happened to all the other young men who laid their eyes on the granddaughter, Marikiri instantly fell in love with her too. Approaching her to convey his love, but at the right time, was a challenge that he had to do next.

Thus, there was another young man, a sailor who had recently returned from working on ships abroad. He was from Abaokoro village and his home wasn’t far from the hospital. Having seeing and being around the granddaughter, ever since his return, the sailor had loved her so much that his ‘kabutiman’ (engagement proposal) was quickly arranged and organized by his parents and relatives.

During the ‘kabutiman’, the grandfather informed the sailor’s relatives, "I cannot answer you right now. I need to inform the girl's parents at Arorae of your proposal. I'll let you know of what they will say, once I receive their reply."

Few days later, the telegram arrived from Arorae. The granddaughter’s parents accepted the engagement request and added that the sailor had to come to Arorae if he truly wanted to marry their daughter.

Several days later, Marikiri received a letter from his doctor. The letter stated that he was fully recovered and had to leave the hospital, that very night, to catch the ship to his island. Even though Marikiri wanted to stay much longer at the hospital, he had no other choices. “It’s time to propose her for marriage. If she doesn't love me, then it will be fine as I won’t be here anymore!” he thought.

Upon hearing what Marikiri said, the granddaughter willingly accepted it with excitement. She openly told Marikiri of his handsome look; that she loved him so much and had been longing for his visit. In addition, she also noticed the sad look on Marikiri’s face.

"What’s wrong?” she asked.

After reading the doctor's letter, Marikiri gave her, she sadly insisted, "We have been in the hospital for quite long. Why did you propose to me during the last remaining hours of your stay?

"I'm so sorry that I am leaving this very night. Before I go, I promise that I will meet you again on the beach of your home island and on the morning of ‘te itingaroa’!” were Marikiri’s last farewell words.

Hours later, that night, Marikiri was on the ship heading back to his island.

Back inside their room, the granddaughter learned from her grandfather that the word 'te itingaroa' referred to; a stormy day with lightning and thunder, rough sea and wind. The grandfather stressed that it was just an old local word that shouldn’t worry her.

“Can Marikiri fulfill his promise?” the granddaughter wondered, knowing of the vast ocean that stretched for miles between their islands, and the stormy weather her grandfather had just mentioned.

Days afterward, the grandfather finally got well, so together with the sailor, they went home. On Arorae, the wedding was agreed to take place in three weeks’ time, therefore the preparation work began. Everything was needed to be ready before the wedding day!

At his home on Makin, Marikiri was busy preparing for the extraordinary ocean trip, he was about to carry out, and one that would take him to the island of the woman he still loved so much. He needed a strong and fast outrigger canoe; therefore he did a lot of work on his canoe. Could this rare sea voyage really take place? And if so, would it be successful? The answers would depend on both the level and reliability of the traditional sea navigation skills Marikiri had already possessed. Apart from being an experienced sea navigator, he was also brave and dedicated.

The remarkable voyage finally set off and went forth in this manner. Marikiri started sailing to Butaritari island, then from Butaritari to Marakei island, from Marakei to Abaiang, Tarawa, Maiana and onward through those central and southern lines of islands until he finally reached the island of Tamana; the last stopover before sailing the last route of his journey. Friday was the day he arrived on Tamana.

Later that same day, Marikiri got back onto his canoe and off he set on the final path of his voyage. Instead of arriving the next day, as he knew, the storm delayed his arrival time to the early hours of Sunday. Not sure what part of Arorae he had landed at, it certainly was the village. After roping his canoe firmly to some rocks, he walked up to the beach.

On the beach, Marikiri was seen by an old woman who often got up at dawn. She informed her husband, "Somebody is on the beach near the ‘bareaka’ (canoe shed)!"

"What is he doing there? Ask him to stay away from the shed," the old man replied.

The woman did as told, and down at the beach, she was astonished to hear a very different accent in the man’s voice. Straightaway, she knew that the stranger could have arrived probably from one of those northern islands. Seeing the canoe in the sea, behind him, she then guessed he must have been washed up after drifting in the ocean.

"Were you an ocean survivor?" she asked.

"No, I’ve travelled here to fulfill the promise I made with the lady of Arorae. My promise is to meet her again on the beach of her island,” he replied with the northern accent.

The old woman could not understand what the stranger had tried to say. Before she could invite him to their home, the husband arrived and interrupted, “So lucky you were washed up here. Come with us to the house.”

“Back in the hospital at Abaokoro, North Tarawa, I promised the lady of Arorae that I will meet her again, on the beach of her island and in the morning of a stormy day,” Marikiri included ‘te itingaroa’ in his words.

The old man remembered the moment his granddaughter asked him the meaning of ‘te itingaroa’ back in Abaokoro hospital. He then knew for sure that this stranger had come after his granddaughter.

“The lady you promised, got married just yesterday!” said the grandfather.

“I’m here only to fulfill my promise and not to interfere. Now that she had married, I then must go back. Please ask her of my request that I want to name her firstborn child. If a boy, name him with my father’s name. If a girl, then let her have my mother’s name.” and he gave the old couple the names of his parents.

“Wait, for she will be asked to come here!” said the old man.

“There’s no need to wait, I must go now,” he replied.

The wife quickly ran to the granddaughter’s home, woke her up and asked her quietly, “Did someone promise to meet you on the beach and at dawn of a stormy day? He’s out there waiting for you now!”

The granddaughter jumped off their small ‘buia’ (raised sleeping house) and rushed towards the beach. The stormy weather outside brought back a fresh memory of Marikiri's promise back in Abaokoro. She just couldn’t believe the man had finally arrived and that she was about to meet him.

But Marikiri was in the sea, raising the sail to set off. The granddaughter cried out, “Marikiri, Marikiri!”

Marikiri instantly recognized that voice but there wasn't anything he could do. He only raised his right hand and shouted back, “Your eyes, to me, look like the lustrous pearl in the sea! Your face looks like the golden sunrays in the early morning horizon!”

Marikiri then slowly sailed away, until his canoe disappeared in the storm. And he was never seen or heard of again!

[Located in the middle of the ocean, somewhere between Arorae and Tamana, is a large shallow expanse of coral reef called Marikiri. It is named after the man in this story]

The headband called 'Te Itoi' and how to make it (video)

Posted by Amota Eromanga on June 11, 2021 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (0)

The headband we are talking about in this article is called ‘Te Itoi’. ‘Itoi’ is a Kiribati word meaning ‘star’. As you see in the picture, this headband assembles the shape of a star - so we guess that’s how the item first got its name. Calling it a garland (apart from headband) is acceptable since the item is meant to be put on a person's head.

The making of this headband is simple and requires little time. The green (or white) leaves of the coconut tree is the best and common material used for this craft. But other materials such as plastic or paper can also be used instead. A cutting tool (scissors or knife) is helpful but not essential as you still can cut the leaves with your fingers. The video at the end of the article has more information about the item.

Learning and knowing how to make this particular type of headband is a handy skill which you will be grateful to apply in later situations. The headband can serve as your garland any time you happen to need one - mainly during fun and informal outdoor activities such as camping, picnic, group dancing and singing or at other casual social gatherings. It is also a great toy and craft for you and your kids to wear and play with. Consider teaching your kids the skill for once they've mastered, it could become a fun outdoor activity for them. Then your kids might teach their peers when out playing or sometimes during their art & craft lesson at school.

That we’ve heard enough about this special type of headband, let’s move on to the construction process:

Things needed:

- 2 coconut leaflets (green)

- Scissors or knife (optional)


We have made a Youtube video on making this item. Click this link to watch the process:

Bakoa, Teimone and The Crab.

Posted by Amota Eromanga on June 9, 2021 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Bakoa (shark) was indeed a wicked king who wanted to rule the entire ocean all by himself. To attain this savage desire, Bakoa began his brutal killings to all the other kings of the sea. He succeeded that in the end, he became one and the only king of the whole sea empire.

Bakoa had a son named Teimone. But the son had to die since the father still wanted nobody to become king after him. On the set day, Bakoa asked his son to go and hunt for dad's favourite food. Teimone did what was asked of him and while hunting, Nei Kika (huge female octopus) came up to kill him. Yes, Nei Kika was part of Bakoa’s dead trap. Teimone felt frightened to death so he ran away from Nei Kika. Quickly and quietly, he hid himself inside a dark deep ditch located among the rocks. With rage, Nei Kika searched cautiously for her lost prey but finally vanished when failed to find him. Teimone snuck out of his hiding hole and continued his way towards his father’s home. On the way, he came across the bait hanging on an ironwood hook and coming from high above. The bait belonged to Tabwakea who was sitting with anticipation on his canoe at the sea surface. Teimone knew how and why the bait got there, so after applying a quick hard tug, he held onto it.

Tabwakea started pulling his fishing string excitedly, thinking a big fish was caught. But how astonished was he to find someone on his bait! After learning Teimone's story, Tabwakea helped him onto the canoe and the two went back to the island. On the island, Tabwakea and his wife Nei Kanna mirthfully raised Teimone like their own son. Teimone grew up happily in his new home and with parents that treated him so kindly. After some time, Teimone told his land parents that he would, one day, go visit his own father.


The time for Teimone to visit his father had finally arrived. Before he departed, Tabwakea gave him a small crab that would protect him from any danger he might face on his homeward journey.

Teimone finally set off to his father’s stately mansion at the bottom of the sea. Along the way, several huge and most fierce fish appeared to attack him. Sensing that, the crab began to grow in size until it was enormous. It then fought and killed all the fish that came to attack his master. After that, the crab shrank to its normal size and went back into the hands of Teimone.

At last, Teimone had arrived at his father’s mansion! Instantly, all the king’s guards and servants burst forth to kill him. Once again, the crab quickly grew huge and rushed forward to eliminate the charging enemies. After killing everyone, Teimone and his crab went back to Tabwakea and Nei Kanna to live with them, for the rest of his life.

But Teimone had really done something rather strange. He had indeed left the ocean without killing his evil father! And that’s why, from then up to these days, Bakoa (shark) remains the king and killer of the entire sea empire.

Tabaneaki and the request of Baretoa people

Posted by Amota Eromanga on October 11, 2020 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

An old man named Toantemabine, once lived at Baretoa village on the island of Abemama. He was known to possess a rare skill of ‘binekua’. With this skill, a person could call or make the whales swim all the way from the bottom of the ocean to the shore. At the shore, they would be killed; their meat cut up then cooked by the villagers for food.

There came an occasion, when the people of Baretoa experienced an intense food craving for the meat of the whale. Thus, everyone understood that getting a whale for its meat wasn’t easy at all. Even their skillful fishermen couldn’t do that either. So who on the island could the villagers turn to for help? Yes, Toantemabine was the only village expert in this field, therefore in the end; he was approached and asked for help.

“All right, I will get what you desire, but don’t forget to gather the food required for the job!” said Toantemabine.

The village people began weaving large baskets and started filling them with local food. Few days later, the baskets were full with food that included bwabwai, coconuts, breadfruits and many more. The villagers carried all the baskets to Toantemabine’s home.

“I’m about to carry out the work. Once I go to sleep, be sure that nobody wakes me up!” he reminded those around him.

After that, Toantemabine got under his sleeping mat and fell into a deep sleep. His spirit left his body and went off and down into the world at the bottom of the ocean. Down there, he came to a place where a couple welcomed him to their home. The couple had two children – a daughter named Tinanimone and a younger son with the name of Tabaneaki. The children were currently away playing in the field.

“It’s been a long time since your last visit. What brought you back, this time?” asked the couple.

“My people are dying for the whale’s meat and I had promised to help them.” replied Toantemabine.

Later in their arguable conversation, Toantemabine was thankful his request was accepted. With cold hearts, the parents agreed to let their son go with him. In appreciation, Toantemabine gave the couple all the food he had brought with him. As soon as Tabaneaki returned home from playing, the two headed back towards Toantemabine’s island. Toantemabine walked much faster, so in the end, he reached the island ahead of his companion.

Upon his arrival at Baretoa, Toantemabine woke up and got out from under his sleeping mat. He told the villagers to get ready as their food was on its way. He warned that the whale must be killed and its body cut up quickly before the arrival of another whale. He also added that those whales were siblings and they should never touch each other or something strange would happen.

Back to the bottom of the sea, Tinanimone had just returned home from the field.

“Where’s my brother?” she asked.

“He went with Toantemabine to his island.” the parents replied.

Tinanimone could sense danger hidden in their voice, so she rushed after her brother. She needed to get to Toantemabine’s island before the tide was fully low. On her way up, she kept asking those she met if they’d seen her brother.

“You better hurry! Blood is seen at the ocean side of Abemama.” said the other fish.

Tinanimone went faster as she could. Her huge wave enabled her to reach the shore, right beside her brother. What a sad and horrible view! Over half of her brother’s body had been chopped with sharp axes and knives by the villagers. The sea around and beyond the area had turned red with his blood. Tinanimone acted quickly, and as soon as she grabbed the tail of her brother, they both suddenly turned into a rock. All the meat that had been cut off also turned into rock - even those being cooked inside pots and earth ovens. None of the whale’s meat could be eaten or used at all.

The body of these whales - in the form of a big long rock that lies all the way from the reef to the beach - can still be seen nowadays at the ocean side of Abemama island.


How To Make A Dancing Garland Called Tetai (video)

Posted by Amota Eromanga on July 18, 2019 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Tetai is the name of the garland made primarily for use in traditional dancing. It’s so exceptional in its shape, structure, purpose and of course location on the dancer. It stands out clearly and can be easily identified from the rest of the dance costumes. It’s also hardly left out from the dancer during a formal traditional performance. And if it happens to fall down from the dancer’s head due to vigorous dance movements, it is a practice that someone from the dance group quickly placed it back again.

White coconut leaves are the main materials used in the making of tetai. Unlike other woven (or braided) local garlands, these white leaves serve both as flowers and string. However, other similar materials including paper, plastic or other leaves have been used instead of the white coconut leaves. We’ve seen garlands made from other materials and they looked really nice indeed. Sometimes red ribbon is placed within and around the garland as a way of adding colors and attraction.

Weaving this garland has been the job of advanced weavers. However, anyone shouldn’t be scared of that practice and the rather complicated structure of the garland as (in our opinion) anyone can make it. The skill really includes simple acts of lifting, twisting and folding the leaves - it’s easy and nothing’s too special about it!

So without further ado, let’s watch and learn how to weave this item. Just follow the process presented in the attached video and you’ll be fine. If along the way you face problems, just comment and we will assist. All the best!

Click the following link to watch the video on Youtube:

40th National Day Celebration Program

Posted by Amota Eromanga on July 5, 2019 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)


Celebration Program

12th July 2019

Uarokoara nakon te Tabomoa ae Teimatoa”.

“Empowerment towards Sustaining Prosperity





Friday 12th July 2019



Parade Contingent assemble on main road at the lagoon side of the Betio Sport Complex



Parade Commander & Police Brass Band lead the procession into Betio Sport Complex’s field followed by all parade contingent

Parade Commander


Parade contingent at ease and taking their positions on the field

Parade Commander


Diplomatic Corps vehicles & Police escort ready at the right side of the Betio Sport Complex

Police escort and VIPs

Order of General Salute to Diplomatic Corps


New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Kiribati escorted to field for General Salute, HE Michael Upton and Mrs Upton

All stand


Australian High Commissioner to Kiribati escorted to field for General Salute, HE Bruce Cowled and Mrs Cowled

All stand


Special Envoy of the President of ROC, Hon. Jia Chyuan SU

All stand


Cook Island -Queen’s representative from the Cook Islands, HE Sir Tom Marsters and Lady Marsters

All stand

Arrival of H.E. Te Beretitenti & First Lady


Review Order to Guard of Honour only, and stand attention. All platoons to stand attention as well.

Parade Commander


Conch-shell blowing to signal arrival of HE Te Beretitenti & First Lady.

Special member


HE & First Lady emerge at right-side of Betio Sport Complex escorted by Unimwane and Unaine from Betio and greeted by Commissioner of Police & entourage and escorted to dais at field

Commissioner of Police and Protocol Officer


HE takes stage and Commissioner of Police stand attention beside the dais while FL and Protocol Officer stand attention on the other side of the dais.

H.E and Compol while FL stand still with PO behind dais.


Order for Presidential Salute (Brass Band play National Anthem-first verse only) and parade contingents/everyone to salute.

Parade Commander


Inspection of Guard of Honour (Brass Band continue playing tunes)

H.E, Compol and Parade Commander


H.E and FL escorted to seat at Stadium

Protocol Officer

National Flag Ceremony


Order for Head-dress removal

Parade Commander


Opening Prayer -Moderator Rev. Reirei Kourabi



Order for Head-dress placement

Parade Commander


Flag Bearers march in from centre of field led by Police Brass band

All stand/All can sing


Unwavering of National Flag as Police Band plays National Anthem (in full verse)

All stand and Salute


Flag Bearers march off and return to their position in the field.

Police Brass Band

Presidential National Day Speech


Delivery of National Day Statement

H.E Te Beretitenti


Order for Guard of Honour Slow March Past the stadium-and back to position on the field

Parade Commander

Honours & Award Ceremony


Secretary to Cabinet announces names of the 2019 National Honours & Award medal recipients

Dr. Naomi Biribo


Presentation of National Honours & Award medals.

HE Te Beretitenti


Secretary for Foreign Affairs & Immigration announces congratulatory messages

Ms. Peniita K. Garisau


Order for Head-dress removal before Benediction

Parade Commander


Benediction & closing – His Lordship Bishop Paul Mea



Order for Head-dress placement

Parade Commander


March-off of Parade guided by YCL Brass Band Contingents followed by pre-schools and Haka Group (New Zealand)

To be led by MTC platoon


YCL brass band for their performances

YCL band master


Guard of Honour’s performance followed by Final Salute and First verse of national anthem and then March Off

Parade Commander


Haka Group march-in to the field for their performance

Haka Group

Refreshment Inside the Sport-Complex


Refreshment inside the sport-complex complemented by garlanding by Arorae Dancing group and show from FOWPAL

All Guests and public to watch the shows.



State Banquet

Entry by Card

40th Independence Celebration Program (Week)

Posted by Amota Eromanga on July 5, 2019 at 10:05 PM Comments comments (0)






5th July



National Day Gala Night

Utirerei Motels Ambo

6th July



DBK Bo-Rabwata Day 1

Police Field Betio


Tobaraoi -Primary Schoo l Competition

Tenimanraoi Maneaba Betio


LYKE IT -JSS  competition

Tenimanraoi Maneaba Betio

7th July





8th July



KOIL -Canoe race day 1 class 7 and 9

Dai-Nippon Causeway -Bairiki side


Tobaraoi -Open dance

Tenimanraoi Maneaba Betio

9th July



KOIL -Canoe race class 7/9 day 2

Dai-Nippon Causeway -Bairiki side


TSCL -Powerlifting

Bairiki Square


Kiribati Seas -Temwakei race

Naanteitera (Causeway between Bairiki and Nanikaai)


BMM-Roro race

Naanteitera (Causeway between Bairiki and Nanikaai)


Utirerei -Open Choir

Tenimanraoi Maneaba Betio


Child Fund -talent show

Betio Sport Complex field


10th July




E-Sport FIFA Day 1

KNYC Maneaba Bairiki


Public tour of Taiwan Patrol Boat Hsun Hu No.9

Betio Jetty


Gospel Day -KNCC

St. Ioteba Maneaba Teaoraereke


Volleyball Female Division 2 Finals

Volleyball court Bairiki


Volleyball Male Division 2 Finals

Volleyball court bairiki


Public tour of Taiwan Patrol Boat Hsun Hu No.9

Betio Jetty


ANZ Kiribati Star Idol – Grand Final

Betio Sport Complex field

11th July



National Culture & Senior Citizens Day

Betio Sport Complex


Public tour of Taiwan Patrol Boat Hsun Hu No.9

Betio Jetty


Weight lifting Finals

KNYC Maneaba Bairiki


E-Sport FIFA Day 2

KNYC Maneaba Bairiki


ATHKL -Voice battle

Bairiki Square


KOIL -Canoe race class 7/9 final

Dai-Nippon Causeway -Bairiki side


AT3R -Wa n Oo

Taiwan park


AT3R -Uaua competition

Atinimarawa channel Betio


KPF-Senior Secondary School

Tenimanraoi Maneaba Betio


Public tour of Taiwan Patrol Boat Hsun Hu No.9

Betio Jetty


Soccer Finals

Police Field Betio


KCDL -Basketball Division 2 Finals

Basketball court Bairiki

12th July



National Day

Betio Sport Complex field



Inside Betio Sport Complex


E-Sport FIFA Day 3

KNYC Maneaba Bairiki


DBK -Bo Rabwta final

Betio Sport Complex field


Weightlifting Finals

Bairiki Square


Punjas -Futsal Final

Inside Betio Sport Complex


KIC -Wooden boat race

Dai-Nippon Causeway Bairiki side


KIC -Fiber glass boat race

Dai-Nippon Causeway Bairiki side


KIC -Alluminium boat race

Dai-Nippon Causeway Bairiki side


Soccer Finals

Police Field Betio


KCDL-Basketball Open Men Finals

Betio Sport Complex


TMCO- competition (drama, 3R beauty contest, tug of war)

Betio Sport Complex field


KOES Free Style Wrestling

Betio Sport Complex


BPA-Table Tennis Finals

Betio Sport Complex


Volleyball Women Finals

Betio Sport Complex


Volleyball Men Finals

Betio Sport Complex

13th July



KCDL -Basketball Women Finals

Betio Sport Complex


KCDL -Basketball Men Division 3 Finals

Betio Sport Complex


Public Tour of Taiwan Patrol Boat Hsun Hu No.9

KPA Jetty



Inside Betio Sport Complex


SWIRE Beauty Contest

Betio Sport Complex field

An interview with two of the survivors of MV Butiraoi

Posted by Amota Eromanga on June 25, 2019 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

The sea disaster MV Butiraoi and its passengers had gone through is one of the worst ocean accidents to have happened in the waters of Kiribati. It indeed had taken the lives of 81 citizens that included olds and children. MV Butiraoi is a 17.5 meters long wooden ferry and prior to the disaster, it had been one of the vessels used for marine transportation within the islands of Kiribati.

The accident occurred on the 18th January, 2018, while the ferry was returning to Tarawa from Nonouti - the distance of about 155 miles. There were 88 people (passengers and crew) on-board the ferry at the time of the accident and from that, 45 of them were males and 43 females. The search and rescue efforts for the passengers started on the 19th of January, after the alarm was received. The search from the air by Fiji and New Zealand did not commence until the 26th January - a week after the alarm. Shortly after that, Australia and USA joined the air search teams. On the 28th January, seven passengers were found alive drifting on a boat, thus the search still went on until the air search was called off on the 1st of February. Remaining passengers hadn’t yet been found until the night of February the 6th; when the interview with the returned survivors was conducted and broadcasted to the nation over the radio. [info source:- internet & interview itself].

The interview was conducted in the Kiribati language whereby two of the seven survivors shared the detailed accounts of the disaster - right before the trip until the time they were rescued. Knowing that if this unambiguous information isn’t kept (in any form) somewhere, it would soon be forgotten and eventually lost forever from the midst and minds of IKiribati. To help avoid the lost from happening, I therefore taped the interview when broadcasted over the radio - with the hope of publishing it later in time primarily as a reference and reminder for our future generations.

Below is the English translation of the interview I taped. The translation wasn’t easy for reasons that; I had to keep it reliable to the source and more importantly is wording it within the limit of our cultural values and feelings. This information isn’t new indeed as it’s actually a written translation of what was already broadcasted to the public.

Before we go further, let’s offer a minute of silence to “HONOUR THOSE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES AND THOSE SURVIVED THIS HISTORICAL WORST SEA DISASTER” ... God bless them all.

INTERVIEW - Note: Interviewer’s questions are in ‘italic’ followed by survi-vors’ replies in ‘non-italic’.

Interviewer: Where did your trip begin and how many of you?

Survivor: My family and I left our village Tebuange to Tabiang village with the help of a motorbike. At Tabiang, we waited for some time as copra was still being loaded onto MV Butiraoi. When we finally got onto Butiraoi, the ferry went slowly through the lagoon towards Matang village. On the way to Matang, the ferry ran onto a few rocks causing damages to some parts of the shaft. The broken parts needed repair therefore the ferry anchored out there. The crew removed the shaft and took it ashore to repair. When the shaft was fixed, it was returned and secured back again into the ferry. Then, the ferry continued its way to Matang village.

How many people or who were with you on this trip?

There were more than 10 passengers from Tebuange village including my family - myself, my wife and our two children (a girl 8 years old and our youngest son 3 years old).

Where did the ferry go after it had been fixed?

It went to Matang village. At Matang, more passengers boarded the ferry. Several empty fuel drums were also loaded onto the ferry. That was Wednesday and everything seemed set and ready. On Thursday morning at around 10 am, the ferry began its long journey to the island of Tarawa. At about 3 pm on that same day, as the ferry reached far north of Nonouti island, the accident took place. It all started with a big cracking sound coming from the hull of the ferry. Passengers asked the captain to stop the vessel and to drop the boats into the sea. But the captain seemed not listening as the vessel seemed to pick up speed. The passengers were angry and shouted at the captain to stop the ferry. Then the second big cracking sound was heard again. The duration between the two alarming sounds was roughly 30 minutes. Passengers got out and told the captain that the vessel was about to collapse.

Where was the ferry then? Was the island (Nonouti) still visible?

Yes, the island could still be seen in the distance. As the ferry went on, the third cracking sound came up again. The ferry finally collapsed right after the sound.

Can you explain how the ferry broke?

The ferry broke inwards and along the middle of its doubled body (hull).

Before the breakage, I warned my wife and children to jump off the outer side of the ferry if the collapse happened. However as the ferry finally collapsed, I jumped into the sea off the outer side but my wife and children were taken inwards with the ship.

Can you recall how many passengers were with you when the ferry left Matang?

More than 17 passengers.

Were there other passengers traveling with their children, like you did?

Many had their children with them. Some mothers were taking their children to Tarawa before school started.

What happened to the people after that?

Passengers were swimming around trying to free from the breakage but sadly some died right away out there. Two old women died as they were caught inside the passengers’ cabin and therefore couldn’t escape.

What about the boats? Were they floated out in time?

Boats were there, but the crew didn’t have time to release them before the incident. They were released after the ferry had collapsed. Passen-gers cut the ropes to free the boats while the crew set up the life boat.

While the passengers were panic as well as trying to get onto the boats, what about you, your wife and your children, were you still floating or trying to swim to a boat?

Yes, we were swimming to one of the boats. When we reached that boat, I helped them to get on. More passengers were still coming up onto the boat. Some climbed onto the ferry.

How many boats floating altogether?

Three, two aluminum boats and one rubber life boat.

All the boats were over crowded, right?

They were over crowded, but more still tried to get on. That life boat could accommodate 20 people but there were about 30 people climbing onto it. Because of that, the bottom part of the life boat got broken.

Were there passengers who couldn’t get onto any of the boats?

Yes, some were still in the sea. With life jackets on, they floated beside the boats. They kept holding the sides of the boats.

Did the boats floated away separately or were they able to stick together?

Yes, we floated to the same course, since we tied the boats together - yes the three boats. The captain and the other passengers floated away towards the island as the sea current seemed to drag them away.

What about the captain and the other passengers?

They were on the broken ferry and the broken life boat since the cap-tain took it.

So there were some who couldn’t get onto the boats, right?

Yes, many couldn’t get onto the boats, more than ten, so they remained in the sea floating beside the boats, yes the crew, school students, and adult passengers.

Was it nighttime when the accident happened, and was the weather rough or calm?

It was daytime when the accident took place and the sea was rough. The wind was strong and the waves rose high. That was why the acci-dent happened.

Were you able to stay or float together on the night of the accident?

Yes, all three boats were drifting together. Everyone was okay until the next daylight. We drifted together to the same direction and to where the wind blew us to.

How long you managed to stay together until you started to get separated?

We stayed together until the second day. On the third day, the problem occurred to one of the boats - it capsized and sank. So its passengers swam to our boat and some to the other rubber boat. We moved passengers who came to our boat to the rubber boat because our boat was about to sink. So I went to my wife and asked her to give me the knife. I then cut the rope to avoid our boat from sinking as the other boat was sinking down. After cutting the rope, our boat began to float a lot better. At the next daylight, our boat had been separated from the others.

What about those in that broken life boat, you mentioned the bottom part to have been torn?

Some were inside and others outside, they just went drifting that way.

Can you continue, you said that you had been separated.

Yes, at the next daylight, we no longer saw the other passengers. We went on separate ways.

How many passengers were there altogether, on and around your boat?

Thirty altogether. Four in the sea and more than 20 on the boat.

Who were in the sea, what age and were they men?

Yes, they were men. I was one of them, two crew and another passenger.

And who were in the boat?

Children, old women - no men, mostly females and children.

Your children were still with you. How many more children were there beside your own children?

More than 10 children beside my children.

The same ages as your children?

Yes, some seemed to 8 years, some 6 years and others around 2 years.

Can you explain what was the situation like on the boat and that with many children with you.

While drifting away on the boat, the children were hungry and began crying for food and drink. Unfortunately there wasn’t any food or drink for them.

Just no food available?

Nothing at all - food ran out just hours after the accident.

You mentioned food ran out, what was that food?

Coconuts - one bag of husked coconuts. The coconuts ran out hours back when we were together and before we got separated - yes many people at that time.

What did you give the children?

The children ate coconuts and drank their juice.

How long did you stay like that until people felt weak?

On the sixth day of drifting in the ocean, our friends began to get weak. People began to pass away.

Who were greatly affected and died, those on the boat or in the sea?

Those on the boat died, old women and children - they died of starvation.

What did you do to the dead bodies?

When someone died, the body went bad so quickly. Blood and smell came out. The bodies couldn’t stay long on the boat. So after saying a prayer, we put the body into the sea. The event was followed by a weep from those left behind.

You were still in the sea, right?

Yes because room on the boat was still not enough. Though two people died that day, we still had to stay in the water.

Can you recall, how many days until there was enough room on the boat for you?

After drifting for more than a week, the number of women and children on the boat had gone down. We finally got onto the boat when there was enough room for us - those in the sea.

The four of you who were in the sea. You all got onto the boat?

Yes, we all got onto the boat, but one of us (a passenger) died the next day morning.

And what about your children?

My two children were still fine. Sadly, my three year old son died some time later. We prayed beside his body before we finally let him go. We cried deeply after him.

How many people were with you now?

9 or more than 10 people remained on the boat.

What about your other child?

Our 8 year old daughter, who was 8 stayed with us until Saturday night when she died. After saying a prayer beside her, we finally put her in the sea

Please tell us how did you cope with the heat and cold?

When the sun was hot, we went into the water to cool ourselves. For those who couldn’t do that, we fetched and poured water on them.

I know all were very thirsty. What did you do for that?

We tried to make fresh water by filling a bucket with sea. After covering it, we left it out in the sun. Two days maybe, we drank it thinking it was fresh water, when in fact it was just seawater. We shared it around to help us from thirsty.

Any of your friends began to act strangely, lose their minds or become hopeless?

Many had lost their minds. Some were there without clothes, others just swam away stating they would buy cold drinks and ice-creams for their children.

At night or day time?

Yes, it happened during the day. They just died that way.

Did you do something to help them?

We swam after them with a line but they just went off as if they were on land until they disappeared.

Can you recall the time when the rescue arrived?

It was Sunday and there were only 7 of us remaining.

How? Did you wave to the plane in order to see you?

We saw the plane that just flew so low towards us, made two rounds above our location, then went off. It came back again, but this time dropping us water and a radio from the air.

You all felt very weak, right?

That’s right. I felt very weak that I couldn’t move my hands and legs easily. My friends felt the same. But the sight of the plane, really brought life back to our bodies again. We sat up and told everyone that the plane had arrived.

And the situation of the youngest child who was still there with you?

Yes, the child seemed to be one that really needed help as he was very weak. Those in the plane told us to let that child know that help was coming soon and to encourage him to stay strong.

What did the plane drop to your boat?

Three plastic bottles of water and a sweet. We opened the first bottle and shared it, then the second and the last one. We emptied all of them.

How long did you wait for the rescue after the plane discovered you on Sunday?

The rescue finally arrived in the afternoon on that same day. Three boats came and carried all of us to the ship. Around 3 pm, we were all on the ship.

One of the ferry’s crew had a serious injury on his leg, how did it happen?

His injury happened during the ferry’s breakage. Maybe, his leg got stuck and was ripped by the broken frames of the ferry. Yes, it was very serious - the bone was almost visible and badly swelled up.

What was the first thing you did when you got onto the ship?

We drank water provided to us. Water was the only thing we had until early that evening when we were given food. The food was like soft porridge made of flour, rice and water.

Were there any I-Kiribati crew working on that ship?

Yes, there was only one I-Kiribati while the rest of the crew looked like Chinese.

You were given some clothes?

That’s right, long pants and sleeves - their fishing clothes - and some blankets. We were given soap then asked to bath.

Did the ship continue fishing or it waited there for another transport to pick and take you home?

The ship stopped fishing and continued searching. It kept searching for three days. On the fourth day, the patrol boat Te Anoai arrived.

Doctors and nurses were on Te Anoai with the team. What did the team do to you?

When we got onto Te Anoai, they performed on us some heath tests including blood pressure, diabetes and so on.

As you seem to be the only survivors of this worst sea disaster, 7 of you altogether, can you just share your feelings that you were lucky to have seen your families again?

We thank God that we could meet our families again, we could have died but thanks God for keeping us alive.


Local basket known as bengabenga

Posted by Amota Eromanga on May 31, 2019 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

There are several different types of baskets that IKiribati can weave from the coconut leaves including bwaabwa, kabiaua, abein, bengabenga and more. This is so since baskets are indeed useful and handy domestic items which we can easily make from plenty of coconut trees growing around us. These baskets differ in their shapes, structures, uses and durability. Further, some are easy to make while others require advanced weavers to make them. Each basket is woven differently therefore if someone wants to be able to weave all these kinds of baskets, she has to know the required skill for each basket.

‘Bengabenga’ is the name of one of the local baskets listed above. It can be easily identified from the rests due to its open ends and flexible build of being folded or flattened. Its shape and design is best suitable for holding and carrying straight objects such as sticks, leaves of pandanus and firewoods. It can be used also as a temporary sitting mat and wall due to its ability to being flattened. Like other baskets, it is light to carry and move around. It’s not as strong and durable as the other types of baskets, thus it can serve you for a year or so.

Weaving the bengabenga is faster and easier than weaving the other baskets namely kabiaua or abein. The latter aren’t only more complicated to weave but the preparation of their raw materials (mainly coconut leaves) consumes more effort and time. Luckily, all that you need in order to make the bengabenga are just the green coconut leaf and a knife.

In our culture, it is reasonably important that grown-up ladies know how to make this kind of basket as they are the ones expected to learn and perform this job. If you are one of those who still have not learned nor mastered this particular weaving skill, then this might be a great opportunity for you to learn as we’re going to show how to do it. Just watch and follow the whole process presented in the attached video made specifically on this subject. All the best and congratulations on making your first bengabenga!

How to weave a bengabenga

Things needed:

- coconut leaf

- knife


Click the following link to watch the process on Youtube:

Local basket known as 'bwaabwa'

Posted by Amota Eromanga on May 22, 2019 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

The word ‘bwaabwa’ is the name of a particular type of basket that is woven only from the green leaves of the coconut tree. The basket is rectangular in shape and has a long straight opening at the top. It looks attractive when newly produced since the raw material being used is the living green leaf cut right off the coconut tree. It then gradually loses its smooth greenish colour over time until the basket becomes dry brown. It is also light to carry and place it around the house. Depending on how you use and care for this basket, it can serve your purposes for at least a year or more.

The bwaabwa is among the handy traditional baskets used a lot by the people of Kiribati. They use it regularly for storing, holding and carrying things around their houses; including fish, fruits and vegetables, rubbish, food, firewoods, and a lot more. After or when not being used, it can be placed either inside or outside the house. Since this basket can be made anywhere and within a short period of time, people tend to make one or more while out camping or working in the bush. Upon returning home, people may use them to bring back fruits and vegetables or other things; otherwise they just leave them in the bush to rot. It isn’t a big deal to rot them there as they can be decomposed easily like other leaves that finally enrich the soil with their minerals.

Even though the skill of weaving falls culturally under the responsibilities of grown-up females, not all of them know how to weave this peculiar basket. In addition, it is quite obvious that there are more older than younger women who can perform this job. One of the reasons why the latter lacks this traditional skill is because of their dependence on foreign baskets and bags. As a result, they tended to lose the need and interest to learn the skill. Let that situation not continue otherwise we will end up losing this type of basket from our culture and life. One way to avoid this problem from our midst is by keep passing the skill to our ladies (especially younger ones) through proper means and settings.

To conclude what we’ve been talking about in this article, we added a section below on how to weave this kind of basket. We listed the things needed then provided a video that fully shows the whole weaving process. Hope this video helps those who wish to learn and master this crucial skill.


Things that are needed:

- coconut leaf

- knife


Click the following link to watch the process on Youtube: